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"'Moneyball,' the movie, is an absolute mess of a film, the type of muddled end product you'd expect from a project that took several years and went through multiple writers and directors." That's how ESPN writer and former Toronto Blue Jays front office employee Keith Law opens his review of the new film 'Moneyball,' which he writes fails as both a movie and a baseball movie. "For starters, the lampooning of scouts, which draws from the book, isn't any more welcome on screen (where some of the scouts are played by actual scouts) than it was on the page; they are set up as dim-witted bowling pins for Beane and Brand to knock down with their spreadsheets. It's cheap writing, and unfair to the real people being depicted."

Law is one of those real people depicted in the Michael Lewis source book, but not because he's a scout. A former Baseball Prospectus writer, Law was hired by former Oakland A's director of player personel J.P. Riccardi when he left Oakland at the end of the 2002 season to become general manager of the Blue Jays. The transaction drew just a brief note in the 2003 book, but Law still seems to have it out for 'Moneyball' -- at least according to author Michael Lewis.

"Billy [Beane] called me and said Keith Law had sent him his review. I looked at it and I thought, What's he talking about?" Lewis told Moviefone earlier on Wednesday. "It's very weird that he's on this. He's intellectually dishonest, and I don't know to what purpose."

In his review, Law comes down hard on what the film cites as "Bill James bullsh-t" (James was the father of sabermetrics, the statical engine that drove Beane during the time period depicted in 'Moneyball'), but Lewis says that wasn't always the case.

"I don't understand why he goes from being -- when I interviewed Keith Law, and I did, at length -- he was so nasty about scouts and scouting culture and the stupidity of baseball insiders. He was the reductio ad absurdum of the person who was the smarty pants who had been brought into the game and was smarter than everybody else. He alienated people. And now he's casting himself as someone who sees the value of the old school. I can't see where this is all heading and why. But I learned from experience that the best thing to do is ignore it, because it goes away."

Check back to Moviefone next week for more with author Michael Lewis about 'Moneyball.' The film hits theaters on Sept. 23.

UPDATE: The back-and-forth continues! Responding to Lewis' comments via Twitter, Law writes: "[H]e didn't trash my review. He trashed me -- the standard ad hominem when you can't address the arguments on the table."

Photo: Melinda Sue Gordon/Columbia Tr-Star